Are Mental Health Problems in College Students on the Rise?

A Towson Psychiatrist Analyzes the Rise of Mental Health Problems Among College Students

College can be an incredibly stressful time in one’s life. These years are crucial for preparing students for their future careers. During this time period, some students are juggling difficult classes, extracurriculars, and part-time jobs. As a result, you’ll often find dozens of stressed-out college students in a library cramming for their upcoming exams or frantically trying to finish their essays. 

In fact, it will probably come as little surprise to you that mental health problems in college students are on the rise. In our latest blog post, a Towson psychiatrist examines this alarming trend and what universities can do to help students. 

Why Mental Health Issues are on the Rise in College Students

More college students than ever are experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety

college student falling asleep on textbooks
If you are a college student who has begun experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety, you are not alone. 

So, why are college students struggling so much with their mental health? College is already known to be an incredibly stressful time in one’s life. You need to perform well in your classes and internships to help secure a job after graduation. But with the pandemic and cloud of uncertainty that continues to hang on everyone’s minds, one’s mental health issues can easily become exacerbated. 

Here are some other common reasons why more college students than ever are feeling depressed and anxious:

  • Feelings of homesickness and loneliness
  • Stress over adapting to new workloads and schedules
  • Trouble managing their sleep schedules
  • Feeling an intense amount of pressure to succeed

Even before the pandemic, multiple studies found an increase in the number of students reporting suicidal thoughts and feeling so depressed they could barely function. More students are seeking mental health treatment than ever before as well. However, this phenomenon can partially be attributed to the fact that the stigma toward mental health issues continues to be lowered or eliminated among younger people. As a result, people no longer feel scared or embarrassed about seeking out mental health treatment. 

Top Mental Health Issues in College Students Today

It’s easy for students to fall into a depression when they feel stressed about classes or their future career. Sometimes these students become dependent on drugs or alcohol to cope with their negative feelings. Other times, they start forming unhealthy eating habits that segway into disorders. 

These are the five most common mental health problems that college students deal with:

  1. Depression
  2. Eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia
  3. Thoughts of suicide
  4. Addiction
  5. Anxiety

Treatment Options for College Students

Students can try a number of different treatment options to manage their mental health issues

happy college students
You can find a number of online and in-person treatments for depression and anxiety. 

As we said before, students nowadays are more willing to seek out help for their mental health issues than the generations before them. They have a number of treatment options available to them, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and medication. Universities typically offer mental wellness programs and professional staff members to help students struggling with their mental health as well. Learn more about these programs now.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a popular treatment for depression that aims to modify negative thinking patterns. CBT is based on the idea that negative thoughts and feelings can cause distorted and unhealthy beliefs in people. For example, people with an all-or-nothing type of thinking typically see everything in black and white. Someone who follows this thinking pattern might believe that getting a C on their chemistry midterm will prevent them from ever getting into medical school. 

A therapist might have this patient journal their live events and thoughts before breaking them down together during a session. With the journal, the patient and therapist can replace these negative thought patterns with healthy ones. 


A physician might prescribe anti-depressants for their patient either alone or in addition to therapy. They might not completely cure a person’s depression, but they can ease their symptoms. Doctors typically prescribe selective serotonin reuptake inhibits (SSRIs) first. SSRIs usually come with fewer side effects and do not present the risk of problems at higher doses like other antidepressants. 

Wellness Programs

Many universities and colleges offer wellness programs for their students. For instance, the University of Pittsburgh brings therapy dogs into the library before the start of finals. A wellness program might also offer free yoga classes or seminars on practicing mindfulness. But are these programs enough? Let’s explore further in the next session. 

How Universities Can Help Their Students

A Town psychiatrist offers guidance on how universities can help decrease the rate of mental health problems in their students

college students on campus
Universities shoulder some responsibility for both the physical and mental health of their students. As a result, they must invest in proper mental health options for them. 

While some universities offer great counseling services and wellness programs for their students, others fall short in their ability to help students struggling with their mental health. Many university health centers are short-staffed, which ends up causing students to wait weeks until a new appointment slot is open. Adding anonymous support lines can also help students who are scared to reach out for help. 

By developing and implementing the proper measures for mental health programs, colleges can help students get back to feeling like themselves.

If you are experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety, know that there is help out there. You don’t have to deal with these issues alone. At the Psych Associates of Maryland, our Towson psychiatrists are ready to give you the help you need. Contact the team today to learn more information.


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